Buon Ma Thuot to Dalat – cool breezes, pine trees and middle-class commodities


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Asia » Vietnam » Central Highlands » Lam Dong » Da Lat
November 28th 2012
Published: December 3rd 2012
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Coffee landCoffee landCoffee land

All along the road we saw coffee being dried in the sun, and people walking through the coffee to turn it around every now and then
The drive up the winding roads to Dalat is quite surreal – the landscape changes, the light is different, the air is crisp and fresh and it is like crossing the border into the middle class. We had heard the Vietnamese refer to it as the Paris of Vietnam, where they come from all over the country on romantic getaways to the city of eternal spring, and that it was filled with kitsch and tacky touches, in true Vietnames style. But our experience was quite the opposite.

By a fluke, the last room available at Dreams Hotel was the best, and 25 dollars bought us a balcony on the top floor with a huge tub, complete with jet streams, as well as the best breakfast we've had in Vietnam so far, and the friendliest guy in the world who did everything, from manning the reception to making said breakfast, himself.

The city itself was an unexpected and lovely discovery: surprisingly middle-class, the fact that it is a destination for the Vietnamese as well makes for a relaxed ambience. Also, the fact that it attracts so much business based on its romantic atmosphere means the town invests money in such
a sna(c)k(e) for the roada sna(c)k(e) for the roada sna(c)k(e) for the road

just a little something you could pick up from the lunch restaurant we ate at by the road
fancy things such as garbage trucks (and trash cans! So you don't have to hoard all your trash all day in order not to throw it on the street!!!), pretty street lights, and yes, even a telecommunications tower shaped like the Eifell Tower.

The relaxed vibe, the buildings left over from the colonial era, and the non-tropical vegetation, make for a nice European feel. To add to our relaxation, we had made it somewhere to get our visas renewed (in an incredible 24 hours!) and could finally give our butts a rest from the road.

To celebrate, we spent a day doing much of nothing. We visited the local market (they had middle-class niceties like zip-locks! And neoprene gloves that could be used for driving! And strawberries!) We ate lunch at the stalls inside the market, and dinner from street vendors (all wearing wool hats, due to the «intense cold» of around 20 Celsius.

On the 2nd day in Dalat we climbed up the highest peak on Liang Bang mountain (a tough 2167 meters up), from which the breathtaking views were oddly European. If you do it, take a right at the ranger station and pay the
Heaven!Heaven!Heaven!

we did not expect a bath tub with Jet stream when we got to Da Lat, but man were e happy
extra admission, it is worth it to get on a real trail and away from the main road, even though the last 900m will leave you winded.

We rounded off the day with some western-style food, a rare treat.

Leaving Dalat, it had been wonderful to enjoy a cool breeze for a change, but we were eager to finally get somewhere where we could even out our tans and Sadie could get some sun on her face (it doesn't seem to like the mix of sweat, dirt and pollution from the bike)...


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Fish for saleFish for sale
Fish for sale

this is the sales booth of a man who was selling wish
Pho-westernPho-western
Pho-western

Many houses in the area looks like they could be used for a western movie. Maybe that would be a new thing; instead of spaghetti western, pho-western?
tonights dinner?tonights dinner?
tonights dinner?

There is plenty of food at the marked, most of it is still alive
Indoor markedIndoor marked
Indoor marked

at the indoor marked you can find everything, spices, clothes, bungees, mats, plastic bags,... think of it, and you will find it, or - someone you ask will find it for you... or run to the store who sells it and then sell it to you
local strawberrieslocal strawberries
local strawberries

actually grown in Da Lat
The Paris of VietnamThe Paris of Vietnam
The Paris of Vietnam

of course with its own Eiffel tower
Dinner at the markedDinner at the marked
Dinner at the marked

Pick what you want and put it on the barbecue. pork, beef, chicken, chicken intestines, and a lot more we did not understand
The old ladyThe old lady
The old lady

This old lady was selling nuts, cigarettes and some chocolate. It is very strange how those who seem the poorest also is the oldest.
The market by nightThe market by night
The market by night

all around the marked there was several stands selling all kinds of food, meat, sea food, vegetables and things we have no idea of what was
The coolest police carThe coolest police car
The coolest police car

at least so far, but what is better, a Jeep or a Samsung?
the peakthe peak
the peak

It was not to far to walk, but the climb sure was steep enough, at least when its 25 degrees or so...
Just like homeJust like home
Just like home

It was a strange experience to walk through pine forest on a path that looked like it could be in northern Europe
Construction workerConstruction worker
Construction worker

No wonder things take a bit longer when sandals are the closest one can get to a shoe with a steel cap toe
Best way of transporting anythingBest way of transporting anything
Best way of transporting anything

is by motorcycle. We have seen doors, fences, show room windows, pieces of big constructions and anything you can think of being transported like this


4th December 2012

Glad you enjoyed Dalat!
I went to school there from 1956 to 1964. I remember climbing (racing) up the mountain you described which didn't have any road at the time. I returned to Dalat in 2009 with my son and we took the Russian jeep up. As for coffee, we were told that Vietnam is now the second largest exporter of coffee in the world.

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